Improved back and forth between workspaces

Posted on May 29, 2016 in ConfigPorn • 1 min read

i3 has a feature to enable going back and forth between workspaces. Once enabled, if you are on workspace 1 and switch to workspace 2 and then just press mod+2 again to switch to workspace 2, you will go back to workspace 1.

However, this feature is quite limited as it does not remember more than one previous workspace. For example, say you are on workspace 1, switch to workspace 2 and then to workspace 3. Then, typing mod+3 will send you back to workspace 2 as expected. But then, typing mod+2 will send you back to workspace 3 whereas one may have expected it to switch to workspace 1 (as does Weechat with buffers switch for instance).

This can be solved by wrapping around the workspace switching in the i3 config. I wrote this small script to handle it.

Basically, you have to start the script when you start i3 by putting

exec_always --no-startup-id "python PATH_TO_/"

in your .i3/config file.

Then, you can replace your bindsym commands to switch workspaces, calling the same script:

bindsym $mod+agrave exec "echo 10 | socat -

(Replace $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR by /tmp if this environment variable is not defined on your system.)

This script does maintain a queue of 20 previously seen workspaces (so you can go back 20 workspaces ago in your history). This can be increased by editing the WORKSPACES_STACK = deque(maxlen=20) line according to your needs.

Hope this helps! :)